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Saturday, March 19, 2011

As Dense as a Rock (part 1): The Foundational Terms for Language Students

  As a student of the Japanese Language(and budding teacher of both it and English), one of my biggest pet peeves about language learning material is that even the best ones expect the reader to know what a noun clause or a gerund is like the back of their hand and don't even give one single second to explain what they are or how one uses them in their native language. I was also guilty of this in the earlier versions of my lessons, and it's something I want to rectify as much as one dude with a blog can. When the series is done, these entries will be collected into one section of the blog+links to the further explanations of the individual entries on my Tumblr, but for now, let's starts with these base terms, the core of what gives any language it's skeleton;  its foundation.

A word that is the name of a subject of discourse
What Does That Mean?
It gives a name to people, places, things and ideas, Proper Nouns naming specific people, places, things and ideas. It’s much like the difference between saying you ate at a restaurant and saying you ate at Spago.

A word that takes the place of nouns in sentences (He, She, They, etc.)
What Does That Mean?
When the subject is understood, they’re employed to give more flow to what you’re saying and eliminate repetition. When you mention the name of a subject, you can use pronouns in its place so your sentences don’t sound stilted and unnatural. When it’s not mentioned when Pronouns are used, they add a sense of mystery to a statement(this is especially true for Japanese, which I will discuss in greater detail at a later date)

A word that expresses an act, occurrence or mode of being
What Does That Mean?
It gives us a way to describe the stuff we do to someone, whether it’s playing football, yelling at the top of our lungs or living it up. What makes a word a verb-or an adjective or noun, for that matter-depends largely on personal perception and how each person uses the language, making it just as like to hear someone say “Let’s green this place up” as you would hear “Are you gonna Lawyer up?”. (And there are different kinds of verbs to create different moods, which will be discussed later)

A word that typically serves as a modifier of a noun
What Does That Mean?
They give color, definition and intent to the form laid out by nouns and the life infused by verbs. Instead of just saying you own a car, they let you say you own an American car; instead of just saying you love Metal, they let you say you love Heavy Metal; instead of just saying you’ve gained skill, they let you say you’ve gained unbeatable skill. The kinds of effect the different adjectives make are plentiful, and will be discussed later.

A word that typically serves as a modifier of a verb, adjective or other adverbs
What Does That Mean?
They-in moderation-allow greater detail in describing something, so it lets you say the hair of a girl you just saw is platinum blonde or fiery red instead of just plain ol’ blonde or red.

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